Madhuvanthi Kannan's thesis at Max Planck, Gottingen, was aided by the existing facilities, lectures and conferences.
If you are an aspiring scientist, you probably enjoy solitude, long hours of contemplation and elaborate discussions with your fellow-mates on non-existent theories. You get all this and more in Göttingen — Stadt der Wissenschaft (City of Science) — a small town in north Germany with an elaborate scientific history.
The University of Göttingen (ca. 1737) is the most ancient in the country and has been associated with over 45 Nobel laureates. The notable mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss and physicists Max Planck and Werner Karl Heisenberg made their discoveries here.
Hub for neuroscience
The city today is a hub for neuroscience. The three Max Planck Institutes (MPIs), the German Primate Centre and the European Neuroscience Institute, all of which are affiliated to the university, foster cutting-edge brain science research. I was fortunate to do my Ph.D. in Neurobiology at the MPI-Experimental Medicine under the supervision of a Harvard alumnus.
Research here takes about five years when you spend most of your time (sometimes forgoing weekend parties) in the lab formulating hypotheses and experimenting. Indeed, you get a lot of advice from the principal investigator and are constantly updated by scientific lectures and international conferences.
MPIs invest a lot of money on research infrastructure, so you never run out of lab reagents or animal supplies and you are supported by a fat stipend too.
But, you need to be on your toes since the field is highly competitive and medically relevant. You often have to rush to publish your work in high-impact journals — this is inevitable, for MPIs’ scientific standards are soaring.
It’s certain that in such a setting as Göttingen, you will have your eureka moment. At the end of all the toil, Göttingen rewards you with a quaint surprise. The fresh doctorates are drawn in decorated carts by their juniors all the way to the town hall to kiss the statue of a little girl, Gänseliesel. This ceremonious event is reserved for Ph.D.s and getting here is every fresher’s dream.
For the rest, it is Germany after all… so there’s international cuisine, a lot of beer, prompt trains, football fever and tech-savvy people!
The writer is a Ph.D. graduate from Max Planck Institute of Experimental Medicine, Goettingen, Germany